KBS Professor stimulates debate on supply chain sustainability

Source: PROJECT SCALE newsletter, July 2014 – Weblink

Project SCALE welcomed delegates from across the supply chain to a free event at Chapel Down Vineyard, Kent on 11 July to explore how food and drink companies are responding to the challenges ahead and explore whether sustainability is being recognised as an integral element of future strategy or remains a ‘nice to have’ objective.

A lively introduction by Professor Andrew Fearne, Director of the Value Chain Management MSc at Kent Business School, set the stage for an honest and frank discussion about how food and drink businesses could and should approach being more sustainable, and the impact on the consumer.

Professor Fearne commented “Sustainable food chains are an aspiration of the few – lobby groups and policy- makers – and we are light years away from where we need to be. The majority of consumers are oblivious and there is inadequate impetus for change amongst industry stakeholders with a vested interest in the status quo – fractured relationships and limited information flows leaving plenty of scope for arbitrage, leverage and corner cutting”.

Sion Roberts, Senior Partner at EFFP, discussed the shifting concern of consumer expectations regarding security of supply and highlighted how volatility and increasing demands from Asia could result in a significant drop in raw material availability and impact European companies significantly.

The Group concluded that with growers and retailers having the greatest impacts on the supply chain more effort needs to be made to bring together all parties to have open and honest discussions on next steps. Without this happening soon, the case for legislation and regulation grows.

As Professor Andrew Fearne concluded “Sustainability makes economic sense so there is a significant carrot for changing the way we think, behave and take decisions. The trouble is that not enough people in key positions (with organisations and the food chain as a whole) are willing or able to do the maths”.

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